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What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes affecting 85 – 90% of all people with diabetes. While it usually affects mature adults, younger people and children can also develop type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes results from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Although there is a strong genetic predisposition, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is significantly increased with factors that may be related to lifestyle choices including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, insufficient physical activity and the classic 'apple' body shape where extra weight is carried around the waist.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the beta cells in the pancreas still function and produce insulin but this insulin is not working effectively (this is often called insulin resistance) and/or there is insufficient amounts of insulin produced (this is often called beta cell dysfunction). The effect is a rise in blood glucose levels.

In type 2 diabetes, many people have no obvious symptoms, while other signs can go unnoticed or are mistaken as part of “getting older". Because of this type 2 diabetes can often be diagnosed through other medical conditions or investigations. When people experience symptoms, they may include:

  • increased thirst,
  • frequent urination,
  • feeling tired and lethargic,
  • always feeling hungry,
  • having cuts that heal slowly,
  • itching,
  • skin infections,
  • blurred vision,
  • gradually putting on weight,
  • mood swings / irritability,
  • headaches,
  • feeling dizzy,
  • leg cramps.

If you have any of these symptoms you should discuss them with your doctor.

Diabetes cannot be cured but it can be managed.

To manage type 2 diabetes, a healthy eating plan and physical activity are important. However, it is important to realise that diabetes is a progressive disease and over time tablets and/or insulin may be required to keep blood glucose levels within target ranges. It is important to take tablets/insulin as recommended by your doctor so that the risk of diabetes complications are reduced.

What does it mean for someone diagnosed with type 2 diabetes?

If you have just been diagnosed or someone you care for has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, it is perfectly natural to be experiencing a range of emotions. Finding out more information about what diabetes is and how to manage it can allow you to make informed decisions about your health and can help you to feel in control of your health.

Diabetes is about self management and a long term commitment to good health. It can be a challenge to balance all the requirements of diabetes management. Despite this, the good news is that having diabetes will not prevent you from living a normal life. In order to self manage diabetes, it is important to find the information to allow you to make the best choices for your health including lifestyles and treatment options, and to gain ongoing support and reviews with a diabetes health care team.

While you will manage your diabetes day by day and you are the most important member of the team, there will be times when you will need help from a team of health professionals. Your diabetes team may include a Doctor, Diabetes Educator, Dietitian, Endocrinologist, Podiatrist, Optometrist / Ophthalmologist, Dentist, Exercise Physiologist and other allied health professionals. It is important to find a team of people who can work with and support you with managing your diabetes.

What to do now?

Diabetes SA has a range of type 2 diabetes education programs conducted by health professionals and support services available to support you throughout your journey with diabetes.

Diabetes SA can help you take steps to learn about what you need to know so that you can independently manage diabetes.

Please have a look at our calendar to find an education program to suit your needs.

Contact us

At Diabetes SA we have a team of Health Care Professionals that may be able to assist you with managing your diabetes. Our Health Care Team is available from 9am to 4pm (Monday to Friday) to answer your questions either by telephone or by arranging a consultation with one of our Diabetes Educators or Dietitians. Please call Diabetes SA on 1300 198 204 to arrange an appointment.